The Indian embassy in Ukraine issued an urgent advisory asking Indian nationals to immediately leave Kharkiv and reach the outskirts of the city which saw continued pounding by Russian airstrikes on Wednesday. While in a U.P. poll rally PM Modi said that no efforts will be spared to bring the Indian citizens home, the Opposition demanded a more concrete strategy for the evacuation.
U.S. President Joe Biden has said that dictators who do not “pay a price for their aggression” cause more chaos. According to excerpts released on Tuesday ahead of his first State of the Union address, Mr. Biden said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was premeditated and unprovoked.
The United Nations’ top court has scheduled hearings next week into a request by Ukraine for the court to order Moscow to halt its invasion.
The first round of talks between Russia and Ukraine concluded on February 28, without resulting in a deal. Both sides agreed to continue the talks, as Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged that the country be given membership of the European Union.
More than 350 civilians, including 14 children, have been killed during the invasion, Ukraine says, while more than half a million people have fled the country.
The conflict began escalating on February 21, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and deployed troops in a peacekeeping role.
Here are the latest updates:
Powerful explosion in Kyiv near rail station
Ukrainian officials have reported a powerful explosion in Kyiv, between the Southern Railway station and the Ibis hotel, an area near Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office told The Associated Press on Wednesday night that it was a missile strike.
Officials said it wasn’t immediately clear how damaging the strike was, whether there were any casualties or where exactly the missile hit.
The Southern Railway station is one of two stations that make up the main passenger rail complex that thousands have used to flee the war over the past week. The two stations are connected by an overhead corridor that crosses over about a dozen tracks.
The stations are about 3 kilometers (2 miles) from Maidan Nezalezhnosti, the square that was the site of huge protests in 2014 and 2004. — AP
Prosecutor to investigate potential war crimes
The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor opened an investigation on Wednesday into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide in Ukraine dating back to 2013, but also covering the conflict sparked by Russia’s invasion.
Prosecutor Karim Khan said he launched the probe after 39 of the court’s member states requested an investigation, a process known as a referral.
“These referrals enable my Office to proceed with opening an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine from 21 November 2013 onwards, thereby encompassing within its scope any past and present allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed on any part of the territory of Ukraine by any person,” Mr. Khan said in a statement.
“Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced,” he added. — AP
Russia claims it has taken Ukrainian port city
A Russian official says troops have taken the Ukrainian port city of Kherson — a claim that the Ukrainian military denies.
The city is under Russian soldiers’ “complete control,” Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.
He said that the city’s civilian infrastructure, essential facilities and transport are operating as usual and that there are no shortages of food or essential goods.
Mr. Konashenkov said talks between the Russian commanders, city administrations and regional authorities on how to maintain order in the city were underway on Wednesday. The claims could not be immediately verified.
A senior U.S. defence official said on Wednesday that they have seen claims that the Russians have taken Kherson, but that the Ukrainian military is rejecting that claim.
“Our view is that Kherson is very much a contested city at this point,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to make military assessments. — AP
France’s Macron says Putin ‘chose war’
French President Emmanuel Macron says Russian President Vladimir Putin “chose war,” but that he would continue his contacts with the Russian leader to try to stop the conflict and avoid its spread beyond Ukraine’s borders.
In an address to the nation on Wednesday, Mr. Macron hammered home that the consequences of the conflict will reverberate to France and other European countries, thrusting the continent into a new era.
Mr. Macron’s 14-minute address was meant to apprise the French of what has happened and what he predicts the fallout will be. It was his second such address and comes days before Mr. Macron must by law declare his candidacy in French presidential elections in April.
After enumerating the unsuccessful efforts by Western powers to prevent the invasion, Mr. Macron said, “It is, therefore, alone and in a deliberate way that by denying engagements taken before the international community, President Putin chose war.”
The war in Ukraine “marks a rupture,” jolting Europeans into a new era that will force new, costly decisions in all spheres, from defence to energy, Macron warned.
The French President stressed that he won’t abandon contacts with Russia. Mr. Macron has travelled to the Kremlin and had multiple telephone conversations with Putin, the latest on Monday, trying to facilitate an end to the Ukraine conflict.
“I chose to stay in contact and will remain in contact as much as I can and as long as it is necessary with President Putin, to convince him to renounce arms, to aid as much as France can ... and prevent contagion and enlargement of the conflict as best we can,” Mr. Macron said. — AP
Modi speaks to Putin on evacuation of Indians from Ukraine
Amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday evening.
This was the second conversation between the two leaders in the last seven days. Mr. Modi spoke to President Putin hours after the Indian embassy in Ukraine issued an “urgent advisory” for all Indian nationals in the war-torn eastern city of Kharkiv and urged them to leave by early evening.
Before that, the newly appointed ambassador of Russia to India assured that Moscow is considering a humanitarian corridor for foreign nationals stuck in Kharkiv as the Russian forces continue an intense military campaign in the area.
Ukraine, Russia to hold talks on Thursday
A top aide for Russian President Vladimir Putin says Ukrainians are on their way to Belarus for talks that have been scheduled for March 3.
“As far as I know, the Ukrainian delegation has already departed from Kyiv, is en route ... We’re expecting them tomorrow,” Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Russian delegation, told reporters on Wednesday evening
According to Mr. Medinsky, the two sides agreed on the Brest region of Belarus, which borders Poland, as the site of the talks.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office confirmed to The Associated Press that the delegation is on its way, but gave no details on the time of the arrival. — AP
U.N. General Assembly condemns Russian invasion of Ukraine, India abstains
India, once again, abstained as the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted 141-5 (35 abstentions) to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling on Moscow to unconditionally withdraw its troops. Voting on the resolution occurred after representatives of more than 120 countries, territories and associations, made remarks over two days at a special emergency session of the UNGA.
The General Assembly session was convened after a similar resolution had failed to pass the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) on Friday when Russia exercised its veto. — Sriram Lakshman
U.S. hits Russia, Belarus with new sanctions
The White House has announced additional sanctions against Russia and its ally Belarus, including extending export controls that target Russian oil refining and entities supporting the Russian and Belarusian military.
Among Wednesday’s new measures are sanctions targeting 22 Russia defence entities that make combat aircraft, infantry fighting vehicles, electronic warfare systems, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles for Russia’s military.
The U.S. Commerce Department also announced additional export controls on oil and gas extraction equipment that would hurt Russia’s refining capacity over the long term.
The Biden administration, and Western allies, have largely stayed away from hitting the Russian energy sector to avoid causing tremors to the global supply of energy. The White House, however, said in a statement that U.S. and allies “share a strong interest in degrading Russia’s status as a leading energy supplier over time.”
The latest sanctions imposed on Wednesday include the U.S. closing off its air space to all Russian flights. President Joe Biden previewed that he would making the move in his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening. — AP
Russia rejects claims of ‘incalculable losses’
The spokesman of the Russian Defence Ministry says 498 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine and 1,597 more sustained wounds.
Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov on Wednesday rejected reports about “incalculable losses” of the Russians as “disinformation” and revealed Russia’s military casualties in Ukraine for the first time since the start of the attack last Thursday. He assured that families of those killed are receiving all necessary assistance.
Mr. Konashenkov also said that neither conscripts, nor cadets have been involved in the operation in Ukraine, dismissing media reports alleging otherwise. — AP
U.N. votes to demand that Russia stop war
The U.N. General Assembly voted on Wednesday to demand that Russia stop its offensive in Ukraine and withdraw all troops, with nations from world powers to tiny island states condemning Moscow’s actions.
The vote was 141 to 5, with 35 abstentions. It came after the 193-member Assembly convened its first emergency session since 1997.
Assembly resolutions aren’t legally binding, but they do have clout in reflecting international opinion. A Russian veto sank a similar resolution in the more powerful U.N. Security Council on Friday, but the Assembly allows no vetoes. Under special emergency session rules, a resolution needs approval of two-thirds of those countries voting, and abstentions don’t count. — AP
Biden says sanctions against Russian oil imports not 'off the table'
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that a ban on Russian oil imports to the United States in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine is not "off the table."
"Nothing is off the table," he told reporters when asked if oil could be the next target of unprecedented US and Western sanctions against Moscow. — AFP
China says it is ‘extremely concerned’ over civilian casualities in Ukraine
China is deeply grieved to see the outbreak of conflict between Ukraine and Russia and "extremely concerned" over civilian casualties, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and called on Kyiv and Moscow to resolve the raging crisis through negotiations.
The two ministers spoke for the first time on the phone on Tuesday since violence broke out in Ukraine following an attack from Russia.
Wang said that the situation in Ukraine has changed rapidly and that China laments the outbreak of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia and is "extremely concerned" with the harm to civilians, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
In expressing serious concern over the harm to civilians, Wang, however, was careful not to blame Russia— PTI
189 Indian students who reached Slovakia from Ukraine to fly home tonight: Rijiju
Nearly 200 Indian students who reached Slovakia from war-hit Ukraine will fly home tonight, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Wednesday.
Mr. Rijiju, one of the four Union Ministers sent to coordinate the evacuation of Indians from Ukraine, reached the Slovakian city of Kosice.
"Good to see huge relief in the faces of our students who have reached Slovakia from Ukraine. All of them are given proper care and kept near Košice in Slovakia," he tweeted.
He added that "189 of them are leaving tonight for India".
The Ministers have been sent as part of 'Operation Ganga' to fly out Indian citizens stranded in Ukraine.
Rijiju also shared a video of students who said they were housed comfortably. They also thanked the government for the evacuation exercise.
The Law Minister reached Slovakia on a SpiceJet flight sent to pull out Indians who reached the country by road from Ukraine. — PTI
Over 2000 civilian lives lost in a week of war, says Ukraine’s state emergency services
Ukraine's State Emergency Service says over 2,000 civilians have died in the past week of war. — PTI
U.K. calls Putin a war criminal, urges UN vote against invasion
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday called Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal and urged UN unanimity to condemn his invasion of Ukraine.
His comments came in parliament, where MPs gave a standing ovation to Ukraine's ambassador in attendance.
Mr. Johnson wore a UK-Ukraine flag pin, and many lawmakers wore clothing in Ukraine's blue and yellow colours.
"What we have seen already from Vladimir Putin's regime, in the use of the munitions that they have already been dropping on innocent civilians, in my view already fully qualifies as a war crime," Mr. Johnson said. — AFP
EU bans broadcasts of Russian state media RT, Sputnik
The European Union on Wednesday banned broadcasts of Russian state media RT and Sputnik as part of a sweeping package of sanctions over President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
"Today, we are taking an important step against Putin's manipulation operation and turning off the tap for Russian state-controlled media in the EU," the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement. — AFP
India issues urgent advisory, urges Indians to immediately leave Kharkiv
Indian government has issued an urgent advisory for the Indian citizens in Ukraine to immediately evacuate Kharkiv and reach Pesochin, Babaye and Bezlyudovka by 1800 hours (Ukrainian time) today.
"For their safety and security, they must leave Kharkiv immediately repeat immediately in the light of the detriorating situation. They should proceed to Pesochin, Babaye and Bezlyudovka as soon as possible for their safety," the embassy said.
"Under all circumstances, they must reach these settlements by 1800 hours (Ukrainian time) today," it said.
The advisory did not specify where these places are but according to Google Maps, they appear to be on the outskirts of Kharkiv. — PTI
U.N. says nearly 8,36,000 refugees have fled Ukraine
The number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Ukraine has surged to nearly 8,36,000, United Nations figures showed Wednesday, as fighting intensified on day seven of Russia's invasion.
In all, 8,35,928 people have fled across the country's borders, according to the website of UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency.
That marks a huge jump from the 6,77,000 announced Tuesday afternoon by the organisation's chief Filippo Grandi.
More than half have headed west into Poland, according to tallies completed up to Tuesday.
UNHCR figures show that 4,54,000 people had fled to Poland; 1,16,000 to Hungary; 67,000 to Slovakia; 65,000 to Moldova, 43,000 to Russia, 38,000 to Romania and 350 to Belarus.
Meanwhile, 52,000 have moved on to other European countries.
An additional 96,000 people had crossed into Russia from the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk regions between February 18 and 23, UNHCR noted. — AFP
Four killed as air strikes pound Kharkiv: local authorities
Four more people were killed and nine wounded as a barrage of Russian air and rocket strikes pounded the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Wednesday morning, the local emergency services and Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.
"Kharkiv is a Russian-speaking city. Every fourth person in Kharkiv has relatives in the Russian Federation. But the city's attitude to Russia today is completely different to what it ever was before," he said in an online video statement.— Reuters
China refuses to impose sanctions on Russia
China won't join the United States and European governments in imposing financial sanctions on Russia, the country's bank regulator said on Wednesday.
China is a major buyer of Russian oil and gas and the only major government that has refrained from criticizing Moscow's attack on Ukraine.
Beijing opposes the sanctions, said Guo Shuqing, the chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.
"We will not join such sanctions, and we will keep normal economic, trade and financial exchanges with all the relevant parties,” Guo said at a news conference. "We disapprove of the financial sanctions, particularly those launched unilaterally, because they don't have much legal basis and will not have good effects."— AP
Mariupol in Ukrainian hands, Russia shelling civilians, say local authorities
Mariupol city council said on Wednesday their southern city was under Ukrainian control but locked in battles with Russian troops. The council said on social media that Russian attackers were shelling civilian sites, including residential blocks, hospitals and dormitories for people displaced by fighting. - Reuters
Working on providing safe passage to Indians from conflict zones in Ukraine: Russia
Russia on Wednesday said it is working “intensely” to create a “humanitarian corridor” for safe passage to Russian territory of Indians stuck in Kharkiv, Sumy and other conflict zones in Ukraine. At a media briefing, Russian Ambassador-designate Denis Alipov said Russia is in touch with India on the issue of safety of Indians and that the safe passage will be put into place “as soon as possible. “We are working intensely on creating the corridor and secure safe passage for Indians stuck in various conflict zones in Ukraine,” he said. He said Russia is working on ways and means to provide safe passage to Indians for their secure passage to Russian territory from the conflict zones in Ukraine. - PTI
Modi, Macron agree on need to reach ceasefire as soon as possible
In their phone conversation on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron focused on the “Russian aggression” against Ukraine and agreed on the importance of reaching a ceasefire as soon as possible.
The French embassy in India said this in a readout on Wednesday, a day after the Modi-Macron talks. It said the two leaders underlined the importance of ensuring unhindered humanitarian access and agreed to maintain close coordination on the crisis, particularly at the UN Security Council. -PTI
Belarus is preparing to send troops into Ukraine: Ukraine’s Defence Ministry
Ukraine's Defense Ministry says it has evidence that Belarus, a Russian ally, is preparing to send troops into Ukraine.
The ministry statement, posted on Facebook at midnight, said the Belarussian troops have been brought into combat readiness and are concentrated close to Ukraine's northern border.
“During the past 24 hours, according to intelligence findings, there has been significant aircraft activity. In addition, there has been a movement of a column of vehicles with food and ammunition” approaching the border,” the statement said. -AP
Russia defends airstrike on TV tower in Kyiv
Russia's Defense Ministry claimed Wednesday that Russian aviation disabled the main TV tower in Ukraine's capital in an airstrike but said the attack did not hit any residential buildings.
Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov did not address deaths from Tuesday's strike or damage to the adjacent Babi Yar memorial to Kyiv's Holocaust victims. He said the attack was aimed at disabling Ukraine's ability to stage “information attacks.” Ukraine's State Service for Emergency Situations said the strikes on the TV tower killed five people and left five more wounded. Ukrainian television stations briefly went down after the strike but were later restored.
Mr. Konashenkov also said Russian forces had seized the southern city of Kherson. The claim could not immediately be confirmed.
Russian forces have faced tougher than expected resistance since invading Ukraine from three sides last week. - AP
Russia considering opening humanitarian corridor from Kharkiv
Russian Ambassador to India Denis Alipov said his country is actively considering providing humanitarian corridor from Kharkiv to Russian territory.
Mr. Alipov spoke to the media on Tuesday, a day after an Indian student was killed in shelling.
We want peace to be achieved as soon as possible, Mr. Alipov said adding that "We do keep India updated about what is happening in Ukraine." - Kallol Bhattacherjee
Russia aims to erase us, Ukraine’s Zelenskiy says on day 7 of war
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday nearly 6,000 Russians had been killed in the first six days of Moscow’s invasion, and that the Kremlin would not be able to take his country with bombs and air strikes.
Referring to Russia’s attack on Babyn Yar - the site of a World War Two massacre of Jews by German occupation troops and Ukrainian auxiliaries - Mr. Zelenskiy said: “This strike proves that for many people in Russia our Kyiv is absolutely foreign.” - Reuters
China says over 2,500 of its citizens in Ukraine have been relocated
More than 2,500 Chinese nationals in Ukraine have been moved out of the country, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular media briefing on Wednesday.
China has said previously that there were about 6,000 Chinese citizens living in the country. Reuters
U.S. sanctions on Russia won’t affect IAF significantly: IAF Vice Chief
The Indian Air Force (IAF) will not be significantly impacted by the US’s sanctions on Russia and India’s relations with both the countries are strong, Vice Chief Air Marshal Sandeep Singh said on Wednesday.
“We know the geopolitical situation is difficult (currently)… Our relations with Russia will continue,” Singh said at a press briefing here. -PTI
31 evacuation flights to bring back over 6,300 Indians in coming days
As many as 31 evacuation flights will be operated to neighbouring countries of crisis-hit Ukraine and will bring back more than 6,300 Indians stranded in the eastern European nation, according to official sources.
Under ‘Operation Ganga’, the flights will be operated by Air India, Air India Express, IndiGo, SpiceJet and Indian Air Force.
From March 2, 21 evacuation flights will be operated to bring back Indians from Bucharest in Romania, while 4 will be from Budapest in Hungary, the sources said.
Further, 4 flights will be operated to bring back people from Rzeszow in Poland and 1 flight from Kocise in Slovakia.
Indian Air Force will be bringing back Indians from Bucharest.
Together, the planned 31 flights -- from March 2 till March 8 -- will be coming back with more than 6,300 people. -PTI
Ukraine to receive more missiles and Turkish drones, minister says
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Wednesday the country was set to receive Stinger and Javelin missiles from abroad, as well as another shipment of Turkish drones.
Several Western countries have pledged to supply Ukraine with weapons to fend off a Russian invasion. -Reuters
At least 21 killed, 112 wounded in shelling of Kharkiv: Ukrainian official
At least 21 people were killed and 112 wounded in shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in the last 24 hours, regional governor Oleg Synegubov said on Wednesday.
The authorities have said Russian missile attacks hit the centre of Ukraine’s second-largest city, including residential areas and the regional administration building. - Reuters
Ukraine crisis: More students to arrive in Kerala today
More Keralite students evacuated from war-hit Ukraine through Operation Ganga are scheduled to land in Kerala during the course of the day, state government officials said.
A chartered Air Asia flight carrying over a 100 students is expected to depart New Delhi for Kochi at 4 p.m.
Eleven students left the national capital for Kannur via Goa and 20 others for Kochi on separate flights early Wednesday morning, the government said quoting Saurabh Jain, Resident Commissioner of the State in New Delhi. Sixteen more students are expected to reach Thiruvananthapuram on two Indigo flights later in the day.
Google blocks RT, Sputnik from Play app store in Europe
Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Tuesday that it has blocked mobile apps connected to RT and Sputnik from its Play store, in line with an earlier move to remove the Russian state publishers from its news-related features.
A number of tech companies have limited distribution and advertising tools to Russian news outlets in recent days as the European Commission readies a ban on them out of concern that they are spreading misinformation about the war in Ukraine. -Reuters
Travel to Budomierz check-point for quick entry into Poland: Indian embassy to stranded nationals
The Indian embassy in Polish capital Warsaw on Wednesday advised Indians stuck in Lviv and Ternopil and other places in western Ukraine to travel at the earliest to the Budomierz border check-point for a relatively quick entry into Poland.
In an advisory, the embassy asked the Indians to consider avoiding the Shehyni-Medyka border crossing which has been witnessing very long queues and massive gatherings of people.
India has launched an evacuation mission under which its nationals from Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Slovakia are being brought back home after their exit from Ukraine through its land border crossings. -PTI
Six flights departed for India in last 24 hours under ‘Op Ganga’: EAM Jaishankar
Six flights under India’s evacuation mission ‘Operation Ganga’ have departed for India in the last 24 hours, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday.
India launched the evacuation mission under which the Indians from Hungary, Romania, Poland and Slovakia are being brought back home after they exited Ukraine through its land border crossings.
Mr. Jaishankar said the flights that departed for India in the last 24 hours included the first one from Poland. -PTI
IAF aircraft leaves for Romania to bring back stranded Indians
A C-17 Globemaster aircraft of the Indian Air Force left for Romania on Wednesday morning carrying humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
The aircraft is expected to bring back Indians from Romania, who exited war-hit Ukraine through its border crossings.
Officials said the aircraft left for Romania early morning.
India on Tuesday sent the first tranche of humanitarian assistance comprising medicines and other relief materials to Ukraine via Poland.
India had decided to send the relief supplies to Ukraine to help it deal with the humanitarian situation along its border areas with tens of thousands of people attempting to flee the Russian invasion.
Russian airborne troops land in Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv: army
Russian airborne troops landed in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Wednesday, the Ukrainian army said, adding that there were immediate clashes.
“Russian airborne troops landed in Kharkiv... and attacked a local hospital,” the army said in a statement on messaging app Telegram. “There is an ongoing fight between the invaders and the Ukrainians.” -AFP
Biden announces release of 30 mn barrels of oil to maintain global oil prices
U.S. President Joe Biden announced that his administration has worked with 30 other countries to release millions of barrels of oil from American strategic reserves to maintain the global oil prices in the midst of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In his maiden State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Mr. Biden said his administration was taking “robust action” to make sure the pain of the US sanctions is targeted at Russia’s economy.
He vowed that his administration will use every tool at its disposal to protect American businesses and consumers. -AP
Oil prices surge $5 per barrel despite release of supplies
Oil prices surged another $5 per barrel on Wednesday after an agreement by the United States and other major governments to release supplies from strategic stockpiles failed to calm market anxiety over Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Benchmark U.S. crude rose $5.24 per barrel to $108.60 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Brent crude, the international price standard, gained $5.43 to $110.40 per barrel in London. -AP
Around 70 Japanese have volunteered to fight for Ukraine: report
Several dozen Japanese men have answered a Ukrainian call for foreign volunteers to fight Russia’s invasion, according to a media report on Wednesday.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Sunday for the formation of an “international legion,” prompting dozens from the United States and Canada to volunteer.
As of Tuesday, 70 Japanese men - including 50 former members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and two veterans of the French Foreign Legion - had applied to be volunteers, the Mainichi Shimbun daily said, quoting a Tokyo company handling the volunteers. -Reuters
State of the Union: Unity on Ukraine amid division at home
Lawmakers gathered Tuesday at the heavily secured U.S. Capitol for President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address — some wearing blue and yellow ribbons and lapels in support of Ukraine — as attention turns from challenges at home to the intensifying war overseas.
It’s the first time all members of Congress are invited to the House chamber since the COVID-19 outbreak largely shuttered the Capitol and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection by a mob of the former president’s supporters tried to stop Biden’s election. Masks are optional now, but the security fencing is up, a stark reminder of the nation’s divisions.
The challenge for the president, and the lawmakers listening from the chamber, will be to address the crisis abroad will confronting the difficulties still at home.
Biden to ban Russian planes from U.S. airspace
President Joe Biden plans to announce Tuesday night that the U.S. is banning Russian aircraft from its airspace in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the decision.
The move follows similar action by Canada and the European Union this week. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Biden’s State of the Union speech in advance.
In remarks released by the White House in advance of the speech, Biden offers an ominous warning that without consequences, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression wouldn’t be contained to Ukraine. -AP
China says ‘highly concerned’ about civilian casualties in Ukraine
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi conveyed to his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that Beijing was “highly concerned” about the damage done to civilians amid the conflict in Ukraine.
Tuesday night’s phone call was the first high-level contact between Ukraine and China, which has neither criticised the actions of its close ally Russia nor called it an invasion. Mr. Wang did not do so either, although his comments expressing concern on civilian casualties marked the strongest from China so far about the actions of Moscow.
Russia excluded from more sports as sanctions mount
More and more sports are following the appeal of the International Olympic Committee and banning Russian athletes from competing in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia was barred from competing in international ice skating, skiing, basketball, track and some tennis events Tuesday, a day after being kicked out of soccer competitions and hockey — Vladimir Putin’s favourite team sport. The decisions follow the IOC’s request to international sports federations to keep Russian athletes out of events they organize.
The International Skating Union, the body that runs the sport around the world, said no athletes from Russia or Belarus “shall be invited or allowed to participate” in events until further notice. -AP
Boeing announces suspension of support for Russian airlines
American aviation giant Boeing on Tuesday announced it was suspending its support for Russian airlines and its operations in Moscow amid a growing backlash to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We have suspended major operations in Moscow and temporarily closed our office in Kyiv,” the Ukrainian capital, a Boeing spokesperson said.
“We are also suspending parts, maintenance and technical support services for Russian airlines. As the conflict continues, our teams are focused on ensuring the safety of our teammates in the region.” -AFP
World Bank, IMF racing to get aid to Ukraine in coming weeks, months
The International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Tuesday said they were racing to provide billions of dollars of additional funding to Ukraine in the coming weeks and months, adding the war there is creating “significant spillovers” to other countries.
IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass said the war was driving commodity prices higher, which risked further fueling inflation, and disruptions in financial markets would continue to worsen should the conflict persist. Sanctions imposed by the United States, Europe and other allies would also have a significant economic impact. -Reuters